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High Odds or Low Odds?

Be careful when using "high" and "low" to describe odds.

By
Mignon Fogarty
August 5, 2011

High Odds or Low Odds?

 

"Low odds" means something is likely, and "high odds" means something is unlikely, but many people get the two confused.

High odds would be something like 42-to-1. You'd be happy if these were the odds on your horse that wins at the track because you'd win a lot of money, but these aren't the odds you'd want if you need something to happen. It's a long shot.

  • The odds are high that Squiggly will participate in the X Games.

  • The odds are high that there will be an earthquake in Phoenix in the next hour. 

Low odds would be something like 2-to-1. These odds mean something is somewhat likely to happen.

  • The odds are low that Squiggly will ask for a chocolate dessert.

  • The odds are low that there will be an earthquake in California in the next decade.

I think I'll just say the odds are good or the odds are bad from now on. It's the safest bet since so many people don't understand odds.

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